Hey all, this is Yvonne from Wolfe County Grow Appalachia. For several years lately, I’ve suffered from a different type of spring fever. While my hands and feet itch to get into the soil and plant something, just like all the rest of us, my eyes and ears yearn for something else. It seems that each year, the sight and sound of honey bees and other pollinators grows dimmer and fewer. And a bit more depressing.

A few decades ago, when I had my small farm, my husband at the time and I kept several hives of bees. I loved checking on them in the early spring and one way we determined a good time to open the hives was when the dandelions were in full bloom. Stepping outside our little cabin on most warm mornings, we’d encounter several bees around each blossom and the softest hum would emanate from our yard. Time to check the hives!

Back several more decades to my childhood, it was not uncommon to hear that sound in our front yards as we raced out to play followed quickly by the voice of our mothers warning us not to go outside without our shoes on “or else you might step on a bee!” Today, I rarely have to consider that if I want to walk outside barefoot. Bumblebees, wasps, other types of bees appear but sighting more than a couple of honey bees at a time is becoming too rare. And that is cause for concern for all of us, but doubly sad for me, someone who once tended bees and benefited from their gifts of honey, pollen, propolis.

One way I like to introduce folks to the idea of creating pollinator areas is by making seed balls or seed bombs as most young folks prefer to call them. Sounds subversive! When our Grow Appalachia group meets next week, I’ll be showing them how to make some seed balls and assisting them in locating places where they can create a pollinator sanctuary on their land. And with the wet soils and all the rain, we shouldn’t have much trouble with germination. If all of us add some milkweed, cosmos, sunflowers, coreopsis, purple coneflower, among many other possibilities, to the ends of our gardens or along our fences or barns, we can really assist these critically important masters of plant fertilization. I mean, are you willing to give up 85% of the Earth’s plant species? That’s what will happen if we lose the struggle to restore that healthy buzz all around us.

For those who are curious to make and use seed balls, here’s a dandy fine little video on the method from a very dandy fine little company called, well, Seed Balls, that provides packages of seed balls or all the ingredients you need to make your own. What a great way to celebrate Earth Day this year—creating a sanctuary for our pollinators!

See also: http://www.xerces.org/